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Traditional vehicles

Publish Time:2014-01-20 Author:ftwljsb Click:790

   The old vehicles of the Mongolians are mainly the carts dragged by cow, horse, and camel (lele cart).


  How long is the track of lele cart? How long since the cart has been created? it can not be proved. In the North and South dynasties, cart making technology of Xianbei, Roran, and Tiele nationalities had been developed. They usually made carts with the common birch on the steppe. Tile, spoke, wheel center, axis, thill, and frame of the cart were all made of birch. Birch is solid and is not easily deformed when it is wetted.

  The axes revolve around the axle. Because friction between the wheel and axle is serious, one lele cart can only be used for two to three years. The abraded axle will be deformed and will be broken when the cart is overloaded or runs on uneven roads. The herdsmen consider axle breakage as “the writing on the wall” and a taboo. Therefore, some axles and axes are equipped with iron bond to elongate service life of the cart greatly.

  Tiele (which is also called Chile) people in the North dynasty are called “high cart people” in history book because they had developed cart making technology and wheels of their cart were very tall (as tall as people). Later on, the lele cart of the Mongolians avoided its bulkiness and was made shorter than the carts of Tiele people. However, wheels of the lele cart are also much higher compared with the carts inland. Diameter of wheels of lele cart is about 1.4 to 1.5m and is generally as tall as the cow. The cart is generally more than 4m high.

  It is normal that wheels of lele cart are tall, because lele cart on the steppe usually rides over dense brushwood, thick snow cover, and swampland beside the river and lake. Lele cart is also suitable for desert and cragged mountainous roads, and the tall and big wheels are the best choice for conquering these barriers.

  For the Mongolian herdsmen living on the steppe, lele carts are their essential property and close partner, as well as an indispensable handbarrow in daily life. They can be used to deliver water, fuel, and Mongolian yurt, as well as used in wedding and funerals, etc.. Lele cart can save pains. When the herdsmen transport things with lele cart, they connect the carts together and one person can usually drive seven or eight carts, even more than 10 carts. When spring or autumn comes, the herdsmen migrate to new pastoral area, and a line of lele carts moves forward slowly, with the front ones carrying people (felt tents) and the back ones carrying articles, and the line of lele carts is a complete “home”. When Nadam Fair starts, herdsmen come from all directions, scores of lele carts connecting together and forming a long snake carry good look, happiness, harvest, and hope. On the steppe of midsummer, the team of lele carts forms a sea of carts……

  In the past, the Mongolians of Hexigten were engaged in long-distance transportation with lele carts, delivering out animal products and bringing in household goods. The herdsmen organized voluntarily, with ten people as a unit, generally ten or twenty or thirty, and chose a leader to be responsible for the transportation. Before starting off, they would choose a lucky day, offered sacrifices to the five mountains (the five hairihan) of Hexigten, presented dairy food, splashed wine to worship the God of Mountain and prayed for blessing from the God of Mountain and good fortune and safety. Such cart is slow. In the past, the cart drivers were very hard. They lived and ate outside and one person managed more than 10 carts. Every ten people had scores of carts. Seen from far away, the cart team looks like a dragon wandering in the deep of steppe and disappearing in faraway horizon. People call such cart team as “the train of steppe”.

  Lele cart was once important vehicle of the Mongolian area. Although we can still find lele carts on the steppe, they are not many. With the development of economy, improvement of living condition of the herdsmen, and improvement of transportation condition, lele cart has been replaced by iron-wheel cart, rubber-wheel cart, tractor, motorcycle, and automobiles gradually.

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